There are both spray-on and wash-in products available for treating my DWR (Durable Water Repellent), gore-tex, eVent and other garments using products such as nikwax wash-in or nikwax tx-direct. What types of garments is it more appropriate to use spray-on versus wash-in on and vice versa?

  • I'm not sure there is much of a difference, they should both reapply the DWR. I suppose the wash on ones are more likely to get every part of the garment? In my experience neither are ever as good as the factory added DWR.
    – user2766
    Mar 20, 2014 at 16:32
  • That said, I'd imagine getting the DWR on the inside of the jacket would actually work counter to the processes that Gore tex relies on to work. In short I don't know.... :D
    – user2766
    Mar 20, 2014 at 16:36

6 Answers 6


After considering the existing answers and doing some additional research, here's my take:

Spray-on waterproofing Spray on waterproofing should be used on Multi layer garments. You only want to treat the outer layer which reduces the chance that it will be 'wetting out' quickly, which allows the inner membrane to maintain it's porous properties. I've found many references for gore-tex which state "We do not recommend wash-in treatments, as they can hinder your garment’s breathability."

Wash-In waterproofing Ideal for Single Layer waterproof or water resistant DWR fabrics. Probably great for your tent's rainfly, cheap rain shell pants, or your single layer packable windbreaker. Not so good for your multi-layer gore-tex jacket. Though, you could probably use the spray-on coating for these type of materials as well with little difference in final result. So, if in doubt, I'd use the spray-on.

Either way, you should keep your garments clean to ensure that body oils and sweat deposits don't clog the pores in the breathable membranes. Most breathable garments recommend using a detergent free tech wash that won't wash away the DWR treatment.

  • I personally only have ever used spray-on waterproofing. But not because I knew what I was doing! ;-) Rather because of ease of use. But now it's good to know there's a valid reason for it too. Oct 9, 2015 at 0:03
  • 1
    The Nikwax wash-in products were directly recommended to me for use on my Gore-Tex 3-layer shell by professionals at multiple local outdoor stores. But TBH I did not have the best experience using them...
    – fgysin
    Nov 18, 2019 at 8:45

Contrary to what a lot of people are saying, the wash-in treatment won't block pores of multi-layer fabrics (unless it's really dirty). The chemicals used are designed to break down particulates as small as possible. The 'wash-in' also doesn't do a whole lot of actual waterproofing on the fabric, since it's soaked in water itself. It simply removes dirt and helps the fabric to do its job better. Your jacket will even look like it's been soaked through (because it has!) after being washed.

Tumble drying on a low heat will re-activate the garment by expanding the fabric, and making the pores 'smaller' and more one way. Obviously if the fabric isn't clean, it's not going to do as much, since the pores are blocked.

The spray on is a totally different bunch of chemicals, and would block pores! It is essentially a water repellent. This is best applied to a dry jacket and spread around with a small cloth or sponge (note that this material will also become water repellent), and left to dry or tumble dried on low heat. Extra should be applied to high wear-and-tear areas, such as the shoulders, neck and cuffs. This lay will be rubbed off over time, and should be applied about 3-5 times in between washes.

-Source: Worked at a company making such stuff.

  • Your first paragraph on "wash-in treatment" seems to me to be describing tech wash" for cleaning away dirt or detergent. The question is about wash-in *treatment for waterfoofing. Please clarify.
    – Martin F
    Apr 23, 2023 at 22:19

I have garments, such as pertex, with a pile (Buffalo Mountain Shirt) or microfleece lining (Rab Vapour Rise Jacket). It's useful to have a DWR treatment on the Pertex to help with water resistance where the lining still needs to cope with excess moisture.

In these sorts of garments you definitely want a spray-on treatment otherwise the action of the lining allowing it to move excess moisture away from skin or base clothing will be compromised if they also become hydrophobic due to the DWR.

For clothing with no such lining where you ant all the garment to be water resistant (or waterproof), then the wash-in sort of DWR, is more convenient and probably does the job better, too.

  • When you say "...where you ant all the garment to be water resistant..." do you include both breathable and non-breatable materials? Or would the treatment be different for those two different fabrics?
    – Martin F
    Apr 23, 2023 at 21:55

From the Nikwax website:

Wash-In "For the convenience of a wash-in product try:

TX.Direct® Wash-In"

Spray-On "For non-machine washable items or those with wicking linings use:

TX.Direct® Spray-On"


To emphasize what Liam and Paul hinted at, in all likelihood, too much nikwax wash-in and the like could potentially act against gore-tex by blocking the pores and preventing the fabric from breathing (thus soaking in your own sweat).

What gore-tex primarily recommends on their site and what I've had more success with is simply tumble drying the garment for 20 minutes to reactivate the DWR every once in a while. Every so often, I also coat the seams in otter wax to really seal the deal.

  • I would keep that quiet about the Otter wax as WWF/ Eco lobby may be concerned about otters being farmed to collect their Ear wax just to keep your Goretex jacket dry and toasty ! 😉😂 Nov 17, 2019 at 15:14
  • If you want to "really seal the deal." with wax aren't you destroying the breathabilty?
    – Martin F
    Apr 23, 2023 at 22:23

Scott has a good point. Nikwax will "Plug Up" Gor-tex and leave you in a sauna (first hand experience). To be fair, The tumble dry works well for a time but there are better options. Hawk Tools states on their site that their bar wax contains "Tylol" and binds to synthetic fibers. The above discussion Spray on vs Wash-in is so binary. Also, make sure to consider the difference between waterproof vs water resistant here as well. Amazon seems to have some in stock.

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